A PILOT scheme that provides specialist support to victims of domestic abuse is now being rolled out across Cheshire.
Officers at Cheshire Constabulary will work with Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs) across the county as part of a domestic abuse early intervention and victim support programme for those suffering from abuse involving intimate partners.
The scheme that has been operating in Halton involves a dedicated police officer and an IDVA jointly assessing the domestic abuse incidents reported to police, and carrying out follow-up visits to each victim to provide specialist information, advice and support.
During those follow-up visits, a plain clothed officer and an IDVA will meet the victim face-to-face and provide a quick and supportive service, along with a better understanding of the process.
While police officers progress the investigation, the IDVA can provide a dedicated service to the victim, not only supporting them emotionally but also helping them keep safe and secure and gain financial independence.
Victims who were visited by a police officer and IDVA described the scheme as a supportive service, quicker response and looking at the victim’s best interests.
One said: “Because of the situation I was in they’ve actually kind of helped me restart my life again in a different area.
“It’s nice to be able to go out and nobody know me or know the gossip and to know that I can feel safe walking about.”
And another added: “I feel safe, I feel like I’m coming back. I feel like me a bit more now.
“My little girl’s gone back to preschool so knowing she’s safe, where she is, knowing that he hasn’t got a clue where she is.”
A third said: “I feel more confident in ringing people, that’s the main thing for me and actually being able to ask for help.”
Another victim said: “I think it’s made me more confident, because before I would never tell people.
“I used to think I’m not telling anyone about the abuse and I never used to go out and stuff or tell anyone my problems but now I feel like I can talk to the police when I need to.”
The scheme will initially run county-wide for the next nine months.
The service will run during the weekend and on Monday day shifts – often the peak periods for reported domestic abuse incidents.
Det Chief Insp Gareth Lee, Cheshire Police’s lead for domestic abuse, said: “The pilot scheme has been extremely effective having already helped dozens of victims in Runcorn and I’m pleased it is going to be rolled out to other victims across Cheshire to enable them to receive the same dedicated support.
“Working alongside IDVAs has been imperative in helping us to engage more with victims, giving them the confidence to open up to officers while at the same time being given specialist and ongoing support.
“Our commitment in protecting victims of domestic abuse is paramount and I want to reach out to those who need our help and support. We are here for you, please make contact with us.”
Police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, David Keane said: “Tackling domestic abuse in Cheshire is extremely important to me.
“One of my policing priorities is to support victims and protect the vulnerable and I am extremely proud of the partnership work being carried out by IDVAs and Cheshire officers.
“Having the courage to speak out about this terrible crime is a very brave thing to do and this scheme provides crucial support, advice and understanding at a time when victims need it most.”
Cllr Dave Cargill, Halton Borough Council’s executive board member for community safety, said: “The findings from the evaluation of the Operation Enhance pilot are very encouraging. It is good news that it is going to be rolled out so that more victims of domestic abuse can receive this dedicated support to enable them to get their lives back on track and remain safe both emotionally and physically.”
If you are a victim of domestic abuse please contact Cheshire Police on 101 or in an emergency ring 999. If you want to get in touch with a specialist service call the national 24/7 helpline on 0808 2000 247.
See full story in the Chester Leader